If you receive a ticket and you fail to appear on your court date in North Carolina, your license can be indefinitely suspended, and you might even be arrested without warning until the ticket and failure to appear is resolved in court. You should not try to resolve this situation on your own without the assistance of a qualified North Carolina lawyer.

What happens if I miss my court date?

When you miss your court date, the local clerk of court will report the failure to appear to the DMV. The DMV will mail a letter to the address on your license, giving you about 60 days notice of the date that your license will be suspended. When your license is suspended it cannot be reinstated until you have resolved every failure to appear and underlying traffic ticket on your record. The court may also issue an order for your arrest immediately, on the day you were called and failed to appear. If that happens, law enforcement can arrest you upon any chance encounter (for example, if you get pulled over) and they might even come looking for you at the address on your license.

Nothing has happened for a long time, can’t I just ignore it?

Putting your head in the sand and hoping that a traffic ticket will just go away is not a good idea! There is no time limit for a suspension of your license because of a failure to appear, or an order for arrest that was issued because of a failure to appear. The ticket is not going away either. Even if you move to another state, the North Carolina DMV will have reported the suspension to the National Driver Register and you will not be able to get a license as a result.

What should I do if I think I have an old ticket and failure to appear?

If you think you may have an old ticket and failure to appear that has led to an indefinite suspension of your license, you should call the North Carolina DMV at (919) 715-7000 and follow the instructions to speak with a customer service representative. Make sure you ask the representative to check the National Driver Register in addition to your North Carolina record, to see if you have suspensions from any other state that could prevent you from resolving the situation. Next, if you determine that your license is indefinitely suspended because of a North Carolina ticket and failure to appear, you should immediately consult a qualified North Carolina lawyer.

Can’t I just fix this on my own?

You always have the right to handle your case on your own, without a lawyer. In this situation, though, you would be taking on a lot of risk from being inexperienced and unknowledgeable. The worst thing you can do (other than ignoring the situation) is to just start paying the tickets off. Every time you plead guilty (or pay) for a moving violation during a period of suspension your license is suspended for a year. If you plead guilty (or pay) for three or more moving violations during a period of suspension your license is suspended permanently. Sometimes, the only way around this is to resolve the underlying tickets by pleading guilty to improper equipment (a non-moving violation) or using a PJC that a qualified North Carolina lawyer will be able to advise you about.

If you have an old traffic ticket and failure to appear that has resulted in the indefinite suspension of your license, you should contact a qualified North Carolina lawyer today regarding your options to resolve the situation. A minor traffic ticket is not worth losing your privilege to drive indefinitely, or facing the risk of a surprise arrest.

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